Dutton claims credit for ‘miracle’ win
PETER Dutton says his leadership spill put the party in its "best possible position" as one of Malcolm Turnbull's former colleagues dishes the dirt on a "boozy dinner".
In the second part of an explosive new political documentary, Mr Turnbull's former colleagues have also tipped a bucket on the ex-prime minister's behaviour since leaving politics, with one saying: "The problem with politics is that it f***s people up."
Former Defence Industry Minister Steve Ciobo used the foul-mouthed remark to describe Mr Turnbull in the second part of Sky News' Bad Blood/ New Blood mini-series tonight.
Mr Ciobo claimed it was something the former PM said to him in about 2008 after a "boozy dinner" with a former senior member of the Howard government.
"I'm not one to swear but I want to give an accurate portrayal … he said: 'The problem with politics is that it f***s people up," Mr Ciobo told Sky host David Speers.
"And the point about that is unfortunately what I think we've seen now, in the months that have ensued (after the spill), is that Malcolm in many respects has become what he was rejecting back then."
Mr Ciobo added it would be "telling" to see if Mr Turnbull was "able to rise above his desire to be vindictive" in his new book, to be released early next year.
The two-part documentary gives an extraordinary glimpse inside the leadership spill and the party since, with senior figures opening up in no-holds-barred interviews - many of them tearing into their foes.
Home Affairs Minister Mr Dutton ruled out making any future bids for the Liberal leadership but claimed his 2018 challenge had partly led to the Coalition's election win.
"I think in doing what we did last August and with the success that's followed, we put the Liberal Party in the best possible position that it's been in at least 20 years," he said.
"There is no doubt in my mind that we were going to lose at least another 15, 20 seats if Malcolm remained as leader."
He added that Prime Minister Scott Morrison deserved "full credit" for the victory, saying he had "provided the leadership that Malcolm never could".
Mr Dutton also blasted out-of-touch journalists in the Canberra press gallery for misjudging the Coalition's election chances, saying "only a handful" had credibility and understood "the real issues".
But Liberal Senator Arthur Sinodinos, Australia's next Ambassador to the US, issued a damning verdict of his party.
"I think as a whole the party was just so focused on these internal machinations and personal sort of issues that I think we lost sight of who we were governing for," he told Speers.
He also slammed the "seeds of division and dysfunction" that could be created through the 24-hour media cycle which gave outspoken individuals the opportunity to try to "differentiate" themselves in the press.
"In our case, that's dominated the narrative for our government over the last six years," he said.
Christopher Pyne, the former Defence Minister and a senior figure in the Liberal's moderate faction, described the spill as "chaotic", "embarrassing" and "reprehensible".
"As a first world Western country with pretensions to be a major regional power to behave the way that we behaved that week was unedifying," Mr Pyne said.
He said it was "laugh-out-loud ridiculous" for some Liberal MPs to condemn Mr Turnbull for quitting politics after the spill, which resulted in the party being thrashed in the Wentworth by-election and losing its one-seat majority.
New Liberal MP and former diplomat Dave Sharma, who won Wentworth back for the party at the federal election, hit out at Australia's spill culture, warning it damaged the country's credibility and reputation on the world stage.
Prime Minister Morrison described the spill as "traumatic" for the country and Liberal MP Julia Bank's defection as a "surprise" and "a set back" but claimed he was always confident the party could win.
He spoke candidly about his election strategy, saying his efforts to campaign hard in Tasmania and listen to the "quiet Australians" across the country contributed to the "miracle" win.
Mr Turnbull, Tony Abbott and Julie Bishop declined to speak in the documentary.
*Bad Blood/New Blood is available to stream On Demand on Foxtel.